SIR FRANK PETERS :: There is an horrific misconception in some societies that beating children help them become better people. All logic and a massive hill of evidence to the contrary is totally ignored. Some people even have the audacity to equate corporal punishment with discipline, which is totally ludicrous.
Schools and madrasahs play an enormous role in the shaping of societies, for good or bad. Those that inflict corporal punishment on the pupils in their charge can be clearly classified as ‘enemies of the state’ and should be reviled, not revered.
The many lifelong dangers caused to children by corporal punishment in schools (and homes) is well documented. In 1979 Sweden became the first country in the world to ban the torturing of its children. 35-years later many countries still see no harm maiming a child for life, physically or mentally or both; despite the overwhelming evidence collected over the decades that clearly show corporal punishment to be morally wrong and of no benefit to child or society.
Child psychologists in India this week began campaigning for a zero tolerance of corporal punishment to children in homes and schools. They say hitting a child can do more harm than good and can even lead to “disastrous results”.
Indian psychologist Usha Nursaria said most Indians beat their children during their growing years. Then the children repeat the mistake with their own children. Sad but true.
“Parents consider their children to be their property and to punish them as they deem fit,” said Usha.
“As a result, in some cases the child becomes violent, disobedient and stubborn. They even take a dislike to their parents.
The same applies to Bangladesh.
The idea that inflicting violence on a child is going to make them better citizens is illogical, preposterous, and totally absurd; just like squeezing fruit doesn’t enhance its quality. There isn’t a scrap of evidence to support the idea that corporal punishment is good for a child and it’s preposterous in this 21st-century that some people should think so.
No sane human being would inflict torture on the child they profess to love and cherish, or allow anyone else. It speaks volumes for the mentality of the 19 American states that still condone paddling in their schools and why their prisons are full to capacity.
Although corporal punishment has been banned in all Bangladesh schools and madrasahs, incidents keep occurring. Regrettably, some ‘teachers’ live up to the adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’.
Psychiatrist Dr Pawan Adatia said corporal punishment could have grave consequences for the child. “Even a mild form of punishment can jeopardize a child’s self-respect, especially in cases of public humiliation; the child may develop a long-surviving trauma which can result in a case of suicide in some cases if the punishment is repeated.”
He said if a child was physically punished for the purpose of discipline, he might in the future use it on his juniors for the very same purpose.
Anurag Pandey, principal of Suyash Convent, said corporal punishment is destructive to a child’s development, but there is an alternative.
“Showing positive appreciation for students goes a long way in boosting their morale.
“This appreciation is complemented by incentives to work hard and it focuses enduringly at the non-performers by making them realize the worth of responsibility through assignment of posts like class monitor to these children. We have a unique tradition of awarding the ‘Star of the fortnight’ to a child showing drastic change. In cases where teachers find a child extremely unruly, the current teachers interact with the former teachers for earlier experience with that child; which is to find the reason behind the child’s behavior and address that.”
Corporal punishment benefits no one, but harms everyone in society. Stop the rot… it’s common sense.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, a royal Goodwill Ambassador, and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.)